by Isabel Diaz ’19 (De La Salle House)
Isabel Diaz traveled to Jamaica in July of 2019, along with eight other Trinity graduates from the class of 2019, with Sister Susan Kuk. Isabel did a Q&A to answer our curiosity about her experience.
On how they spent their time:
We did so much during our week stay that we constantly stayed busy. Each day consisted of getting crafts and games organized for the kids so that they can enjoy their time at camp. We gave each kid a bag with a coloring book, crayons, pencils, and erasers. We played games such as bingo, volleyball, and tag. Every day after lunch we sat down with our individual groups and read to the kids and or played math games and gave candy (or sweeties as the locals say) as prizes for correct answers. Spending time with your group of kids was the best part. Besides running the summer camp, we also took a walking tour to visit the sick and we visited the Blue Mountain Coffee Ranch which was fun and educational. Also no matter where you are in Avocat you get to go sightseeing. I never got tired of the views of the mountains, fruit trees, and exotic plants.
On the most meaningful aspect:
The most meaningful part of the trip was knowing the impact we had on the kids and the community. During our stay, we got to know and learn about the kids and their personalities and it was easy to get attached. They appreciated everything we did for them and they loved spending time with all of us. Another part of the trip that was meaningful was when we walked a couple miles around the area to visit the sick. That’s where we got to see where some of the kids live and their living conditions. This experience at first was scary because we did not know what to expect but once we did it we were all glad we did. We were exposed to real life living conditions in Avocat during that tour. This is where we also realized how far away some of the kids lived and how far they had to walk every day to that school for the camp.
On her main takeaway:
The main lesson I learned on this trip was to not take anything for granted. Before this trip, I never really thought about all of the luxuries I have at home such as air conditioning and running water for a shower. Going without those luxuries for a week made me realize how much I take for granted without even realizing it. Overall the entire experience was truly eye opening and I wouldn’t change any part of it.
On the generosity of the community:
During our walking tour to visit the sick, the priest that gave us the tour told us about a lady who was mentally ill and lived with her son in a very small house which was destroyed. She and her son had to share a small mattress and they lived off the land. The priest said that the people of Avocat were aware of this and it came to the attention of the church. Everyone tried to help them the best they could to their abilities. This touched me even though the people of the town did not have much, they were still willing to help this lady and her son get a new house. It is a very tight knit community and all of the people care about each other and will help one another when needed.
For me the most challenging part of the week was adjusting to the new environment. For instance, myself and the other volunteers went the whole week without air conditioning and slept in tents or bug barriers to keep the bugs out at night. Also, no matter how much bug spray I used, bug bites are truly inevitable down there especially during the walk down to the waterfall. Another example would be how we had to shower daily in the nearby waterfall. The waterfall itself was very beautiful but it wasn’t the type of shower we normally take. After the first couple days, we became accustomed to the new way of living and it truly did make all of us aware of the simple things we all take for granted constantly.